1976 South Carolina Code of Laws
Unannotated
Updated through the end of the 2002 Session

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Title 50 - Fish, Game and Watercraft

CHAPTER 23.

WATERCRAFT AND OUTBOARD MOTORS

ARTICLE 1.

TITLING OF WATERCRAFT AND OUTBOARD MOTORS

SECTION 50-23-10. Repealed by 1999 Act No. 124, Section 2.U, eff July 2, 1999.

SECTION 50-23-15. Review where dealer fails to meet minimum requirements for permit; renewal for good cause.

A marine dealer who fails to meet the minimum requirements for a dealer's permit annually may request in writing a review of the permit and sales. After review of the dealer's records and after good cause has been shown by the dealer for not meeting the minimum requirements, the department may renew the permit for the calendar year.

SECTION 50-23-20. Certificates of title required.

Every owner of a watercraft or outboard motor, or both, principally used in this State shall make application to the department for a certificate of title for the watercraft and a separate certificate of title for the outboard motor.

SECTION 50-23-24. Boat liveries prohibited from leaving premises unless properly registered, numbered, and titled.

Neither the owner of a boat livery nor his agent or employees may permit any of his vessels to depart from his premises unless it is registered properly, numbered, and titled.

SECTION 50-23-30. Exemptions.

This chapter does not apply to a watercraft which has a valid marine document issued by the Bureau of Customs of the United States Government or a federal agency successor, windsurfers, and watercraft propelled exclusively by human power with oars, paddles, or similar devices.

SECTION 50-23-40. Sale or purchase without certificate of title prohibited.

No person shall sell or otherwise dispose of a watercraft or outboard motor without delivering to the purchaser or transferee a certificate of title with such assignment thereon as is necessary to show title in the purchaser or transferee; nor shall any person purchase or otherwise acquire a watercraft or outboard motor without obtaining a certificate of title for it in his name.

SECTION 50-23-50. Certificate as prerequisite to acquisition of right or title; recognition of right or title by courts.

(a) No person acquiring a watercraft or outboard motor from another person shall acquire any right, title, claim or interest in or to such watercraft or outboard motor until such person has had issued to him a certificate of title to such watercraft or outboard motor, or delivered to him a manufacturer's or importer's certificate for it; nor shall any waiver or estoppel operate in favor of such person against a person having possession of such certificate of title, or manufacturer's or importer's certificate for such watercraft or outboard motor, for a valuable consideration.

(b) No court in any case at law or in equity shall recognize the right, title, claim or interest of any person in or to any watercraft or outboard motor sold or disposed of, or mortgaged or encumbered, unless evidenced:

(1) By a certificate of title or a manufacturer's or importer's certificate, or

(2) By admission in the pleadings or stipulation of the parties.

SECTION 50-23-60. Application for certificate.

(A) Every owner of a watercraft or outboard motor required to be titled under this chapter shall apply to the department within thirty days of the purchase date for a certificate of title for the watercraft or outboard motor accompanied by the required fee and on the appropriate forms prescribed and furnished by the department. The application must be signed by the owner and must contain:

(1) the purchaser's name, street and mailing addresses, and social security number;

(2) for watercraft, a description of the watercraft, including its make, model, year, length, the principal material used in construction, builder's hull number, defined in Section 50-23-170, and the manufacturer's engine serial number if an inboard; for an outboard motor, its make, model, year, horsepower, and manufacturer's serial number;

(3) the date of purchase by the applicant, the name and address of the person from whom the watercraft or outboard motor was acquired, and the names and addresses of persons having a security interest in the order of their priority;

(4) further information reasonably required by the department to enable it to determine whether the owner is entitled to a certificate of title and the existence or nonexistence of security interests in the watercraft or outboard motor.

(B) Every dealer selling or exchanging a watercraft or outboard motor subject to titling under this chapter shall apply to the department for a new title in the name of the purchaser before delivering the watercraft or outboard motor to the purchaser. The application must contain the name and address of a lienholder holding a security interest created or reserved at the time of sale and the date of his security agreement. It must be signed by the dealer showing the assigned dealer identification numbers, as well as by the owner, and the dealer shall mail or deliver the application to the department within thirty days of the sale. However, permitted marine dealers are not required to obtain titles for new vessels and outboard motors held in their inventory for sale until they are sold or exchanged as long as a proper manufacturer's or importer's certificate required by Section 50-23-110 is held by the dealer.

(C) If a dealer buys or acquires a used watercraft or outboard motor for resale and the watercraft or outboard motor is already covered by a certificate of title which is surrendered to him by the owner or lienholder at the time of delivery of the watercraft or outboard motor, the dealer need not send the certificate to the department at that time. Upon transferring the watercraft or outboard motor to another person, other than by creation of a security interest, he shall within thirty days of sale execute the assignment and warranty of title by a dealer, showing the name and address of the transferee and a lienholder and the date of his security agreement, in the spaces provided, on the certificate to the department with the transferee's application for a new certificate.

(D) If application for certificate of title is made for a watercraft or outboard motor last previously registered in another state or foreign country, the application must contain or be accompanied by:

(1) the certificate of title issued by the other state or foreign country;

(2) other information or documents the department reasonably requires to establish the ownership of the watercraft or outboard motor and the existence or nonexistence of security interests in it; or

(3) if the state or foreign country in which the watercraft or outboard motor was last previously registered does not issue certificates of title, a proper bill of sale or sworn statement of ownership or evidence of ownership required by the law of the state or foreign country from which the watercraft or outboard motor was brought into this State, plus other information or documents the department reasonably requires to establish the ownership of the watercraft or outboard motor and the existence or nonexistence of security interests in it.

(E) An application except those from permitted marine dealers presented after thirty days is subject to a late penalty of fifteen dollars.

SECTION 50-23-65. Marine dealer permit invalidated by certain alterations.

A marine dealer permit is invalid when a change is made to one or more of the following:

(1) location address;

(2) federal employer identification number or social security number;

(3) South Carolina tax number;

(4) ownership; or

(5) business.

SECTION 50-23-70. Fee to accompany application for certificate; exceptions.

(A) A fee of ten dollars shall accompany each application for a certificate of title, as required by the provisions of this chapter, with the exception of those applications for duplicates of certificates of title which must be accompanied by a fee of five dollars. Any watercraft which is propelled by hand with oar, paddle, or similar device shall not require a certificate of title unless the owner requests such a certificate.

(B) The provisions of this section requiring a fee do not apply to the motorboats owned by volunteer rescue squads used exclusively for the purpose of the squads.

SECTION 50-23-80. Processing of applications and issuance of certificates; records to be kept by department; withholding issuance of certificate.

(A) The department shall file each application for certificate of title which is received by it, provided it is accompanied by the required fee and complies in all other respects with this chapter. When satisfied that the application is in proper form, that the applicant is the owner of the watercraft or outboard motor, and that there is no security interest in the watercraft or outboard motor not disclosed in the application, the department shall issue a certificate of title to the watercraft or outboard motor.

(B) The department shall maintain a record of all certificates of title issued by it:

(1) Under a distinctive title number assigned to a watercraft or outboard motor;

(2) Under the identification number awarded to a watercraft in accordance with the registration and numbering act of the state in which it is registered. If the State requires outboard motors to be registered separately, the department shall keep the motor registration numbers in its titling records;

(3) Alphabetically, under the name of the owner; and

(4) In the discretion of the department, in any other method it determines.

(C) All records of the department relating to the titling of watercraft or outboard motors shall be public records.

(D) If the department is not satisfied that the applicant for a certificate of title to a watercraft or outboard motor is the bona fide owner of such watercraft or outboard motor and that there is no security interest in it not disclosed in the application, the department shall withhold the issuance of a certificate of title until the applicant reasonably satisfies the department that the applicant is the owner of the watercraft or outboard motor and that there are no undisclosed security interests in it.

SECTION 50-23-90. Contents of certificate; effect as evidence.

(a) Each certificate of title issued by the department shall contain:

(1) The date issued;

(2) The name and address of the owner;

(3) The names and addresses of any lienholders, in the order of priority as shown on the application or, if the application is based on a certificate of title, as shown on the certificate;

(4) The title number assigned to the watercraft or outboard motor;

(5) A description of the watercraft including its make, model, year of manufacture, or year model, registration number and manufacturer's serial number or, if none, the builder's hull number assigned to the watercraft by the department, length, and the principal material used in construction;

(6) On the reverse side of the certificate, spaces for assignment of title by the owner or by the dealer and for a warranty that the signer is the owner and that there are no mortgages, liens or encumbrances on the watercraft or outboard motor except as are noted on the face of the certificate of title; and

(7) Any other data the department prescribes.

(b) A certificate of title issued by the department is prima facie evidence of the facts appearing on it.

SECTION 50-23-100. Certificates shall be issued in duplicate.

Certificates of title shall be issued in duplicate. The copy shall be retained and filed by the department. The original certificate of title shall be mailed to the first lienholder named in it or, if none, to the owner named in it.

SECTION 50-23-110. Manufacturer's or importer's certificate.

(a) No dealer shall purchase or acquire a new watercraft or outboard motor without obtaining from the seller thereof a manufacturer's or importer's certificate.

(b) No manufacturer, importer, dealer or other person shall sell or otherwise dispose of a new watercraft or outboard motor to a dealer for purposes of display and resale without delivering to such dealer a manufacturer's or importer's certificate.

(c) The manufacturer's or importer's certificate must be a uniform or standardized form prescribed by the department and must contain:

(1) a description of watercraft or outboard motor, including its trade name, if any, year of manufacture, series or model, body type, and manufacturer's serial number, length, construction, or horsepower;

(2) certification of date of transfer of watercraft or outboard motor, and name and address of transferee;

(3) certification that this was a transfer of watercraft or outboard motor in ordinary trade and commerce;

(4) the signature and address of a representative of the transferor;

(5) on the reverse side of each manufacturer's or importer's certificate an assignment form, including the name and address of the transferee, a certification that the watercraft or outboard motor is new, and a warranty that the title at the time of delivery is subject only to liens and encumbrances set forth and described in full in the assignment.

SECTION 50-23-120. Assignment and warranty of title; transferee or purchaser shall obtain new certificate; delivery or retention of certificate by lienholder.

(a) The owner at the time of delivery of the watercraft or outboard motor shall execute the assignment and warranty of title to the transferee in the space provided on the back of the certificate of title. In the event the title is voided, due to a change, cancellation of an assignment on a title due to error, or failure of a purchase to materialize the owner shall make application for a duplicate title within five days.

(b) The transferee or purchaser shall obtain a new certificate of title by application to the department accompanied by the required fee and upon the form or forms prescribed and furnished by the department. Such application for certificate of title shall be filed within twenty days after the delivery to him of the watercraft or outboard motor.

(c) Upon request of the owner or transferee, a lienholder in possession of the certificate of title shall, unless the transfer was a breach of his security agreement, either deliver the certificate to the transferee for delivery to the department, or mail or deliver it directly to the department. The delivery of the certificate does not affect the rights of the lienholder under his security agreement.

(d) If a lien or encumbrance is first created at the time of transfer of ownership, the certificate shall be retained by or delivered to the person who becomes the lienholder.

SECTION 50-23-130. Transfer of ownership by operation of law; termination of ownership in accordance with security agreement.

(a) If the ownership of a watercraft or outboard motor is transferred by operation of law, such as by inheritance, devise or bequest, order in bankruptcy, insolvency, replevin, or execution sale, or satisfaction of mechanic's lien, or repossession upon default in performance of the terms of a security agreement, the transferee shall, except as provided in subsection (b), promptly mail or deliver to the department the last certificate of title, if available, or the manufacturer's or importer's certificate, or, if that is not possible, satisfactory proof of the transfer of ownership, and his application for a new certificate of title accompanied by the required fee, and upon the appropriate form or forms prescribed and furnished by the department.

(b) If the ownership of a watercraft or outboard motor is terminated in accordance with the terms of a security agreement by a lienholder named in the certificate of title, the transferee shall promptly mail or deliver to the department the last certificate of title, his application for a new title accompanied by the required fee and upon the form or forms prescribed and furnished by the department, and an affidavit by the lienholder or his authorized representative, setting forth the facts entitling him to possession and ownership of the watercraft or outboard motor, together with a copy of the journal entry, court order or instrument upon which such claim of possession and ownership is founded. If the lienholder cannot produce such proof of ownership, he may submit such evidence as he has with his application to the department, and the department may, if it finds the evidence to be satisfactory proof of ownership, issue a new certificate of title.

(c) If a lienholder succeeds to the interest of an owner in a watercraft or outboard motor by operation of law and holds such watercraft or outboard motor for resale, he need not secure a new certificate of title thereto but, upon transfer to another person, shall promptly mail or deliver to the transferee or to the department the certificate, affidavit and such other documents as the department may require.

SECTION 50-23-135. Notice of possession of abandoned, junked, or similar watercraft.

(A) A person who comes into possession of an abandoned, junked, adrift, destroyed, or salvaged watercraft or outboard motor shall notify the department in writing of possession within ten days of acquiring possession. No person in possession may acquire any right of ownership or sell a watercraft or outboard motor under this chapter without first obtaining a title. If a security interest has been perfected, the person in possession shall notify the lienholder by certified mail, return receipt requested, giving thirty days for response. The person in possession who lays claim to a watercraft or outboard motor is required to submit an affidavit to the department setting forth the circumstances under which he came into possession of the watercraft or outboard motor and such information as the department requires. An owner who abandons or junks a watercraft or outboard motor, either on the land or waters of the State, shall notify the department immediately in writing and deliver to it any title or, if the title is lost or destroyed, a sworn statement of that fact within ten days of the abandonment. A person in possession of an abandoned or junked watercraft or outboard motor:

(1) whose owner of record has complied with this subsection may make application to the department on forms prescribed by the department for titles and transfer of ownership and after satisfying any security interest, if any, and proof of payment of taxes a title must be issued to the person;

(2) whose owner of record has not complied with this subsection shall contact the owner to get proper titles, duplicate title application, and bills of sale as necessary to transfer ownership after satisfying any security interest. The person in possession shall make application to the department within twenty days with appropriate documents;

(3) whose owner failed to comply with this subsection and cannot be located shall send a certified letter, return receipt requested, to the owner's last known address, and advertise three times, seven days apart, in a newspaper of local circulation in the county where the watercraft or outboard motor was found giving a description including the make, model, length or horsepower, and year. The application for title must be accompanied by the newspaper certification of the advertisement and the dates printed, copies of the advertisement, and certified letter;

(4) who does not desire to sell or obtain ownership may forfeit the watercraft or outboard motor to the department which may sell it at any department public auction or destroy it after every reasonable effort to locate the owner.

(B) A person finding a watercraft or outboard motor submerged, a watercraft, or watercraft with an outboard motor that is adrift on the waters of the State or one that has drifted onto land, and salvages the watercraft or outboard motor from the waters of the State, shall comply with subsection (A) to determine the owner giving the serial number, make, year, model, length or horsepower, or hull identification number, serial number, or registration number.

(1) If the owner of record is located, the person in possession of the watercraft or outboard motor shall notify the owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, advising of the reasonable cost of securing, storage, or salvage, and the time limit for response from the date received or presented. Any person who secures, stores, or salvages a watercraft or outboard motor shall acquire a lien against the watercraft or outboard motor senior to an existing lienholder. However, this does not apply to the department for a violation of this chapter. If the owner does not respond, the person in possession may apply for a duplicate title on a form provided by the department with his lien shown and advertise the watercraft or outboard motor for sale at public auction three times, seven days apart, in a paper of local circulation giving the make, year, model, length, or horsepower. The seller shall deduct his reasonable expenses and, after the satisfaction of any other lien, pay any proceeds to the owner upon application.

(2) If the person in possession of the watercraft or outboard motor desires the watercraft or outboard motor for personal use he shall notify the owner of record and all lienholders by certified mail, return receipt requested, with a time of response of thirty days from receipt of the letter. If the owner does not respond, the person in possession may make application on a form prescribed by the department. A title obtained pursuant to this subparagraph is subject to any lien of record previously listed on the watercraft or motor.

(C) A person in possession of an abandoned, junked, drifted, or salvaged watercraft or outboard motor who fails to comply with this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to penalties prescribed by Section 50-23-280(a).

SECTION 50-23-140. Priority and validity of liens and other encumbrances; discharge of liens.

(a) All liens, mortgages and encumbrances noted upon a certificate of title take priority according to the order of time in which they are noted thereon by the department. All such liens, mortgages, and encumbrances shall be valid as against the creditors of the owner of a watercraft or outboard motor, whether armed with process or not, and against subsequent purchasers of any such watercraft or outboard motor, or against holders of subsequent liens, mortgages or encumbrances upon such watercraft or outboard motor.

(b) When a lien is discharged, the holder shall note that fact on the face of the certificate of title over his notarized signature. Prior to delivering the certificate to the owner, the holder shall present it to the department for the purpose of having the department note the cancellation of his lien on the face of the certificate of title and upon the titling records of the department.

(c) A security interest is perfected by the delivery to the department of the existing certificate of title, if any, an application for a certificate of title containing the name and address of the lienholder and the date of his security agreement, and the required fee. It is perfected as of the time of its creation if the delivery is completed within twenty days of its creation, otherwise, as of the time of the delivery.

SECTION 50-23-150. Lost, stolen or mutilated certificate; issuance of duplicate certificate.

(a) If a certificate of title is lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed or becomes illegible, the first lienholder or, if none, the owner or legal representative of the owner named in the certificate, as shown by the records of the department, may obtain a duplicate by application to the department, furnishing such information concerning the original certificate and the circumstances of its loss, mutilation or destruction as may be required by the department.

(b) The duplicate certificate of title shall be a certified copy plainly marked "duplicate" across its face. It shall be mailed to the first lienholder named in it or, if none, to the owner.

(c) In case an original certificate of title is mutilated or rendered illegible, such mutilated or illegible certificate shall be returned to the department with the application for a duplicate.

(d) In the event a lost or stolen original certificate of title for which a duplicate has been issued is recovered, it shall be surrendered promptly to the department for cancellation.

SECTION 50-23-160. Cancellation of certificate when watercraft or outboard motor is destroyed.

When a watercraft or outboard motor covered by a certificate of title is scrapped, dismantled, destroyed or changed in such manner that it loses its character as a watercraft or outboard motor, or changed in such manner that it is not the watercraft or outboard motor described in the certificate of title, whoever is named as owner in the last certificate of title shall promptly cause the certificate to be mailed or delivered to the department. Thereupon the department shall, with the consent of any lienholders noted on the certificate, cancel the certificate.

SECTION 50-23-170. Serial number or hull identification number.

(A) If a watercraft contains a permanent identification number placed on it by the manufacturer, the manufacturer's serial number must be used as the builder's hull number. If there is no manufacturer's serial number, if the manufacturer's serial number has been removed or obliterated, or if the watercraft is homemade, the department, upon application, shall assign a permanent identification number which must be used as the builder's hull number for the watercraft. This assigned number must be affixed permanently to or imprinted by the applicant at the place and in the manner designated by the department upon the watercraft for which the builder's hull number is assigned. "Homemade watercraft or outboard motor" means a watercraft or outboard motor which is built by an individual for personal use from raw materials which does not require the assignment of a federal hull identification number or serial number by a manufacturer pursuant to federal law. An individual may build or furnish raw materials to a builder under a contract to build a homemade watercraft or outboard motor to desired specifications. A copy of the contract, specifications, and bill of sale for raw materials must accompany registration and title application. The person furnishing materials under a contract may be considered the builder. A rebuilt or reconstituted watercraft or outboard motor must not be construed to be homemade. Every homemade watercraft must be certified as meeting safety standards of the United States Coast Guard before it can be sold by the builder. Certification must be furnished to the purchaser and a copy accompany applications for transfer to the department.

(B) Every outboard motor must have a permanent identification number placed on it in at least two locations by the manufacturer. This number must be used as the serial number. If there is no manufacturer's serial number or if the manufacturer's serial number has been removed for a valid reason or obliterated, the department, upon a prescribed application, may assign a serial number for the outboard motor. This assigned serial number must be affixed permanently to or imprinted by the applicant at the place and in the manner designated by the department upon the outboard motor for which the serial number is assigned.

(C) No newly-manufactured watercraft or outboard motor may be sold or offered for sale by a person in this State unless the watercraft or outboard motor has a hull identification number or serial number permanently affixed, and the number also must be affixed permanently in a hidden place.

(D) Manufacturer's serial numbers or hull identification numbers for watercraft must be imprinted clearly in the stern transom knee or other essential hull member near the stern by stamping, impressing, or marking with pressure or for an inboard watercraft on the main inside beam. In lieu of imprinting, the manufacturer's serial number or hull identification number may be displayed on a plate in a permanent manner. In addition to being permanent the number must be accessible. Hull identification or serial numbers must be installed according to United States Coast Guard regulations. If the serial number or hull identification number is displayed in a location other than on or near the stern transom, the department must be notified by the manufacturer as to the location.

(E) No person may destroy, remove, alter, cover, or deface the manufacturer's serial number or hull identification number or part of it, or plate bearing the number, or a serial number or hull identification number or part of it assigned by the department or be in possession of an affected watercraft or outboard motor unless authorized in writing by the department and the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard.

SECTION 50-23-180. Reports of stolen or converted watercraft or outboard motors.

(a) Every peace officer of this State, having knowledge of a stolen or converted watercraft or outboard motor, shall immediately furnish the department with full information concerning such theft or conversion.

(b) The department, whenever it receives a report of the theft or conversion of a watercraft or outboard motor, shall make a record thereof, including the make of the stolen or converted watercraft or outboard motor and its manufacturer's or assigned serial number, and shall file the same in the numerical order of the manufacturer's or assigned serial number with the index records of the watercraft or outboard motors of such make. The department shall prepare a report listing watercraft and outboard motors stolen and recovered as disclosed by the reports submitted to it, to be distributed as it deems advisable.

(c) In the event of the recovery of a stolen or converted watercraft or outboard motor, the owner shall immediately notify the department, who shall remove the record of the theft or conversion from its file.

SECTION 50-23-185. Inspection of watercraft related facilities.

Any law enforcement officer may inspect a junkyard, scrap metal processing facility, salvage yard, marina, repair shop, boat yard, dry dock, licensed business buying, selling, displaying, trading watercraft or outboard motors, new and used or parts of watercraft and outboard motors, or both, parking lots, and public garages or any other person dealing with salvaged watercraft or outboard motors or parts of them.

The physical inspection must be conducted while an employee or owner is present and must be for the purpose of locating stolen watercraft or outboard motors, investigating the titling or registration of watercraft or outboard motors wrecked or dismantled.

SECTION 50-23-190. Unlawful acts; possession, operation or transfer without certificate; failure to surrender certificate; improper disposal of rejected or defective hull or motor.

No person may:

(1) be in possession of or operate on the waters of this State a watercraft or an outboard motor for which a certificate of title is required unless a certificate of title has been issued to the owner;

(2) be in possession of or operate on the waters of this State a watercraft or an outboard motor for which a certificate of title is required upon which the certificate of title has been canceled;

(3) sell, transfer, or otherwise dispose of a watercraft or an outboard motor without delivering to the purchaser or transferee a certificate of title or a manufacturer's or importer's certificate assigned to the purchaser or transferee as required by this chapter;

(4) fail to surrender to the department a certificate of title upon cancellation of the title by the department for a valid reason set forth in this chapter or regulations adopted pursuant to it;

(5) dispose of a rejected or defective watercraft hull or outboard motor in the manufacturing process except by upgrading the hull to meet United States Coast Guard requirements or destroying the hull or outboard motor.

SECTION 50-23-200. Unlawful acts; forged or altered certificate or assignment; stolen property; altered, removed, etc. number.

No person may:

(1) alter, forge, or counterfeit a certificate of title or manufacturer's or importer's certificate to a watercraft or to an outboard motor;

(2) alter or falsify an assignment of a certificate of title, or an assignment or cancellation of a security interest on a certificate of title to a watercraft or to an outboard motor;

(3) hold or use a certificate of title to a watercraft or to an outboard motor nor hold or use an assignment or cancellation of a security interest on a certificate of title to a watercraft or to an outboard motor knowing it to have been altered, forged, counterfeited, or falsified;

(4) have possession of, buy, receive, sell or offer for sale, or otherwise dispose of a watercraft or an outboard motor knowing or having reason to believe the watercraft or outboard motor has been stolen. No person may procure or attempt to procure a certificate of title to a watercraft or an outboard motor or pass or attempt to pass a certificate of title or an assignment to a watercraft or an outboard motor knowing or having reason to believe the watercraft or the outboard motor has been stolen;

(5) have possession of, buy, receive, sell or offer for sale, or otherwise dispose of in this State a watercraft or an outboard motor on which a manufacturer's hull identification number or part of it or assigned serial number has been destroyed, removed, covered, altered, or defaced, knowing or having reason to believe of the destruction, removal, covering, alteration, or defacement of the manufacturer's hull identification number or part of it or assigned serial number; or

(6) destroy, remove, cover, alter, or deface the manufacturer's hull identification number or part of it or assigned serial number on a watercraft or an outboard or inboard motor.

SECTION 50-23-205. Seizure of certain watercraft; notice of seizure and of time for removal; forfeiture and disposal.

(A) A stolen or abandoned, junked, adrift, destroyed, or salvaged watercraft or outboard motor, a watercraft or outboard motor for which the true owner is not determined, or a watercraft or outboard motor on which the manufacturer's or assigned serial number has been destroyed, removed, covered, altered, or defaced may be seized.

(B) Upon seizure of the watercraft or outboard motor, the department shall notify a person claiming an interest in it, and the person has the right to prove his interest before the circuit court in the county where the property was seized. If no action is filed within sixty days of notification, the department may retain the property for official use or transfer the property to another public entity for official use, sell the property at public auction, or, if the watercraft or outboard motor is determined to be unsafe, destroy it. The proceeds derived from the sale must be deposited in the Boating Operating Fund of the department for administration of the program.

(C) When the department determines the owner of a seized watercraft or outboard motor and related marine equipment, it shall notify the owner by certified mail of the procedure, the location, and the fact that he has not less than thirty days from the date of the certified letter to remove the equipment from the department's storage facility. Failure to remove the watercraft or outboard motor by the date designated forfeits the equipment to the department to be used or disposed of according to this section.

SECTION 50-23-210. Suspension or revocation of certificate.

(a) The department shall have the authority to suspend or revoke a certificate of title to a watercraft, or to an outboard motor, upon reasonable notice and hearing, when authorized by any other provision of law or if he finds:

(1) The certificate of title was fraudulently procured or erroneously issued, or

(2) The watercraft, or outboard motor, has been scrapped, dismantled, or destroyed, or transferred and registered in another state.

(b) Suspension or revocation of a certificate of title does not, in itself, affect the validity of a security interest noted on it;

(c) When the department suspends or revokes a certificate of title, the owner or person in possession of it shall, immediately upon receiving notice of the suspension or revocation, mail or deliver the certificate to the department; or

(d) The department may seize and impound any certificate of title which has been suspended and revoked.

SECTION 50-23-220. Deposit and use of funds.

(A) Except as provided in subsection (B), all fees received and money collected under the provisions of this chapter must be deposited in the State Treasury and set apart in a special fund. Appropriations from this fund must be used for the expenses of the department in administering the provisions of this chapter or for any purpose related to the mission of the department.

(B) To the extent fees collected pursuant to Section 50-23-70, in connection with titling a boat, are attributable to fee increases beginning July 1, 1999, revenues from those increases must be used by the department for its law enforcement responsibilities. Any surplus may be carried forward for that use.

SECTION 50-23-230. Wildlife and Marine Resources Commission authorized to promulgate rules and regulations.

The department is authorized and empowered to make, adopt, promulgate, amend, and repeal all rules and regulations necessary, or convenient for the carrying out of the duties and obligations and powers conferred on the department by this chapter.

SECTION 50-23-240. Filing and publication of rules and regulations.

A copy of the regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter, and of any amendments thereto, shall be filed in the office of the board and in the office of the official State record-keeping agency. Rules and regulations shall be published by the department in a convenient form.

SECTION 50-23-250. Employment and duties of investigators.

The director, for the purpose of more effectively carrying out the provisions of this chapter, shall have the power to employ and appoint the necessary enforcement officers for enforcement of this chapter. The duties of such enforcement officers shall include but not be limited to investigating applications for certificate of title, inspecting watercraft, or outboard motors, in or at public facilities for purposes of locating stolen property, and investigating and reporting thefts of watercraft, or outboard motors. With respect to the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter, such enforcement officers shall have and may exercise throughout this State all of the powers of peace officers.

SECTION 50-23-260. List of owners shall be furnished to county auditors.

The department shall annually, between January first and January thirty-first, furnish to each county auditor a list of motors and watercraft registered and titled pursuant to this chapter in the previous year to residents of such auditor's county, which list shall include the names and addresses of the owners of such watercraft and motors and sufficient additional information as will permit the auditors to identify the chattels titled for tax purposes.

SECTION 50-23-270. Applicability of chapter; when title certificates must be obtained; penalty for making false statements in affidavit.

A sale, purchase, or transfer of a vessel or outboard motor is subject to this chapter. All other owners are required to obtain title certificates when their vessel registration becomes due for renewal or execute an affidavit properly notarized that he is the true owner of the vessel or outboard motor. A person making a false statement in an application or affidavit for registration, new, transfer, or renewal, a hull identification or serial number, a bill of sale, or other document submitted to the department is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than fifty nor more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days.

SECTION 50-23-275. Watercraft not previously titled.

A watercraft not previously required to be titled for which a title is required by this chapter must be titled at the time of renewal of the registration of the watercraft or transfer of the watercraft whichever occurs first. An owner of such a watercraft must secure a title for the watercraft within three years from the effective date of this section.

SECTION 50-23-280. Penalties.

(A) A person violating this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than fifty nor more than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not less than ten nor more than thirty days.

(B) A person convicted of violating Section 50-23-200 is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than two hundred nor more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned not less than thirty days nor more than one year, or both.

(C) A dealer violating this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than fifty dollars for the first offense, not less than one hundred dollars for the second offense, and not less than two hundred dollars or imprisoned not less than thirty days for the third and subsequent offenses. For the third and subsequent offenses, the dealer's permit must be suspended for ninety days.

(D) A person who submits a fraudulent check to the department for fees or is convicted of violating this chapter must be denied future dealer permits or certificates of number by the department.

SECTION 50-23-290. Conditional titles.

(A) If an applicant for a watercraft title or outboard motor title is not able to produce a perfected chain of title from the last owner of record or from the manufacturer, the department may issue to the applicant a conditional title which reflects on the face of it that it is conditional and that it does not warrant ownership against the true owner. The conditional title may not be issued unless the department:

(1) determines that the watercraft or outboard motor has not been reported as stolen in this State as required by this chapter or in another state;

(2) determines that no active liens exist on the watercraft or outboard motor or that the existence of liens is unlikely; and

(3) determines that the last titled owner cannot be found or the probability of finding the owner is remote; or

(4) determines that the necessary paperwork to perfect the title has been lost, stolen, or destroyed and reasonably cannot be found or duplicated.

(B) The applicant shall cause to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the last titled owner of the watercraft or outboard motor is known to have lived a notice in the following form:

A. TO: (Name of last titled owner) and all persons claiming an interest in (description including make, model, year, horsepower, and hull identification or serial number if available). Please take notice that (Name of applicant) shall apply to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for a title to that certain (watercraft or outboard motor) described as follows: (Description including make, model, horsepower, year, and hull identification or serial number if available) no later than ten (10) days from the last publication of this notice. This is the (first, second, or third) of three notices to be published weekly for three weeks. If you wish to claim an interest in this (watercraft/outboard motor) you are advised to contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources immediately.

B. If there is no record of a previous titled owner or he cannot be determined the notice may be addressed to all persons claiming an interest in the watercraft or outboard motor and published in the county of the applicant's residence for the prescribed period.

C. Upon receipt of proof of publication (Certification from newspaper with copy of advertisement and dates) and having received no claims from interested parties upon determination of the department that the above conditions exist, the department may issue a conditional title to the watercraft or outboard motor upon receipt of payment of appropriate taxes, fees, and application.

D. The conditional nature of the title must be reflected clearly on the face of the title and upon any subsequent titles issued on the watercraft or outboard motor for seven years.

E. A person claiming an interest in the watercraft or outboard motor may bring an action within seven years to set the conditional title aside and for the return of the watercraft or outboard motor. Seven years after issuance of the conditional title it is incontestable and a new nonconditional title may be issued upon application and payment of the appropriate fee.

SECTION 50-23-295. Transfer of title to watercraft or outboard motor on which property taxes owed.

A certificate of title to watercraft or an outboard motor may not be transferred if the department has notice that property taxes payable by the current owner within the past three years are owed on the watercraft or outboard motor. If transfer of title has been denied pursuant to this section, a tax receipt on the watercraft or outboard motor from the person officially charged with the collection of ad valorem taxes in the county of residence must be accepted as proof that the taxes have been paid. The bill of sale or title to watercraft or an outboard motor shall require certification that property taxes have been paid by the current owner as of the date of sale.

The county treasurer or other appropriate official annually, or more frequently as the county may deem appropriate, shall transmit a list of delinquent taxes due on watercraft and outboard motors to the department. The list may be transmitted in any electronic format as may be deemed acceptable by the department.

The current owner is not required to pay property taxes pursuant to the provisions of this section if such tax levy is below exemption for the minimum tax on boats. The tax levies for the prior three years may not be used cumulatively to exceed the minimum tax levy collection threshold.

ARTICLE 3.

NUMBERING

SECTION 50-23-310. Vessels shall be numbered.

Every vessel using the waters of this State shall be numbered except those exempt by Section 50-21-320. No person shall operate or give permission for the operation of any such vessel on such waters unless the vessel is numbered in accordance with this chapter or in accordance with applicable Federal law or in accordance with a Federally-approved numbering system of another state and unless

(1) The certificate of number issued to such a vessel is on board and in full force and effect.

(2) The identifying number set forth in the certificate of number is displayed on each side of the forward half of the vessel.

(3) The decals issued by the department are attached to each side of the bow of the boat within six inches following the identifying number. Such decals, when a certificate of number is issued or renewed, shall be deemed a part of the registration number.

SECTION 50-23-320. Certain vessels need not be numbered.

(A) A vessel is not required to be numbered under this chapter if it is:

(1) covered by a certificate of number in effect which has been issued to it pursuant to federal law or a federally approved numbering system of another state. However, this vessel must not be used on the waters of this State for more than sixty consecutive days;

(2) from a country other than the United States and temporarily using the waters of this State;

(3) a vessel whose owner is the United States except recreational-type vessels;

(4) a vessel whose owner is the United States, a state, or political subdivision to a state used for governmental purposes and which is clearly identifiable as such;

(5) a vessel's lifeboat if the boat is used solely for lifesaving purposes;

(6) a vessel belonging to a class of boats which has been exempted from numbering by the department after the department has found that the federal government has exempted the vessel or class of vessels from their numbering provisions or as otherwise permitted by the federal government;

(7) documented by the United States Coast Guard or a federal agency successor to it;

(8) used under authority of a valid temporary certificate of number issued by the department or its agent;

(9) a sailboat or paddle boat when no propulsion machinery of any description is installed in or attached to the boat.

(B) Nothing in this chapter prohibits the numbering of an undocumented vessel upon request by the owner even though the vessel is exempt from the numbering requirements of this chapter.

SECTION 50-23-330. Numbering system shall conform to Federal system.

In the event that an agency of the United States Government shall have in force an overall system of identification (numbering) for vessels within the United States, the numbering system employed pursuant to this chapter by the department shall be in conformity therewith.

SECTION 50-23-340. Application for and issuance of number and certificate; fee.

The owner of each motorboat requiring numbering by this chapter shall file an application for a number with the department on forms approved by it. The application shall be signed by the owner of the motorboat and shall be accompanied by a fee of thirty dollars. Upon receipt of the application in approved form, the department shall enter the same upon the records of its office and issue to the applicant a certificate of number stating the number awarded to the motorboat and the name and address of the owner. The certificate of number shall be pocket size.

SECTION 50-23-345. Temporary certificate of number.

(A) The department may issue temporary certificates of number to permit the use of watercraft while applications for certificates of number are processed. Temporary certificates apply to new watercraft not previously owned or transfers of watercraft with valid certificates of number. A temporary certificate is valid for not more than sixty days from the date of purchase of the watercraft. A temporary certificate is invalid when the certificate of number is issued.

(B) When using a recently purchased watercraft under authority of a temporary certificate of number the operator shall carry a copy of the bill of sale on board as temporary proof of ownership.

(C) A temporary certificate of number must not be issued for a watercraft without a hull identification number.

(D) Duplicate or updated temporary certificates of number or updated bills of sale are prohibited.

(E) The number assigned to a temporary certificate of number must not be displayed on the watercraft.

SECTION 50-23-350. Issuance of certificates of number by Division or agents.

The department may issue any certificate of number directly or may authorize any person to act as agent for the issuing thereof. In the event that a person accepts such authorization, he may be allotted a block of numbers and certificates therefor which upon assignment and issue in conformity with this chapter and with any rules and regulations of the department adopted pursuant to this chapter shall be valid as if assigned and issued directly by the department.

SECTION 50-23-360. Manner of displaying number.

The owner shall paint on or attach to each side of the forward half of the vessel the identification number in such a manner as may be prescribed by rules and regulations of the department; in order that it may be clearly visible the number shall be maintained in legible condition. No number other than the number validly assigned to a vessel shall be painted, attached or otherwise displayed on each side of the forward half of such vessel. Only one valid number may be displayed at any time.

SECTION 50-23-370. Term and renewal of certificates.

(A) Except as otherwise provided, a certificate of number awarded pursuant to this chapter continues in effect for three years unless sooner terminated or discontinued in accordance with this chapter. Certificates of number may be renewed by the owner in the same manner provided for in the initial securing of the certificates. The department shall fix a day and month of the year on which certificates of number due to expire during the calendar year lapse and are not in effect unless renewed pursuant to this chapter.

(B) The department may issue a certificate of number for demonstration and testing purposes to a permitted marine dealer or marine manufacturer. The certificate of number is valid from the date of issue to December thirty-first each year or a change in business ownership, change of business name, relocation of the business, or termination of the business, whichever occurs first. The registration card must be marked clearly "dealer" or "manufacturer".

(C) A renewal application for a certificate of number, except those from marine dealers, presented after thirty days from its expiration date is subject to a late penalty of fifteen dollars.

(D) The department may issue a certificate of number to a person engaged primarily in the business of repairing watercraft or outboard motors. The certificate of number must be issued upon payment of a thirty-dollar fee and expires December thirty-first each year.

SECTION 50-23-380. Transfer of registration upon change of ownership; fee.

(A) Upon the transfer of ownership of a watercraft, the purchaser shall file an application for transfer of a registration card at a cost of six dollars. The application for transfer must be made by the purchaser within thirty days from date of purchase. The purchaser may operate the watercraft for not more than sixty days on a temporary certificate of number.

(B) The provisions of this section for the transfer charge do not apply to watercraft owned by volunteer rescue squads used exclusively for the purposes of the squads.

SECTION 50-23-385. Houseboats with waste-holding tanks; indefinite mooring; waste pump-out.

Houseboats used for habitation may be indefinitely moored at a private dock as long as the houseboat has a waste-holding tank. Waste pump-out must be done at an approved pump-out facility. A person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars or imprisonment for thirty days, or both.

SECTION 50-23-400. Notice of change of address of certificate-holder.

Any holder of a certificate of number shall notify the department in writing within fifteen days if his address no longer conforms to the address appearing on the certificate and shall, as part of such notification, furnish the department with his new address.

SECTION 50-23-420. Hull identification number shall be displayed and affixed.

No vessel constructed after November 1, 1972, shall be offered for sale in this State unless the hull identification number is permanently displayed and affixed in accordance with United States Coast Guard rules and regulations.

SECTION 50-23-425. Renewal of registration denied for failure to pay property taxes; proof of payment.

A registration of watercraft may not be renewed pursuant to this chapter if the department has notice that property taxes are owed on the watercraft. If renewal of registration has been denied pursuant to this section, a tax receipt from the person officially charged with the collection of ad valorem taxes in the county of residence must be accepted as proof that the taxes have been paid.





Legislative Services Agency
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